Thursday, May 30, 2002

Manslaughter charge
possible in fatal collision

By Nelson Daranciang

Honolulu police said they may seek a manslaughter charge against the driver of a car in Tuesday's traffic collision in Kailua that killed a 15-year-old Kaneohe girl.

Witnesses who called police before the accident described the driver's behavior as reckless, according to Maj. Robert Prasser of the Honolulu Police Department's Traffic Division.

"That was one thing that most of the witness statements made a note of, that this seems to be intentional behavior. They all described it as very reckless, and that's why they called in on their cell phones," Prasser said.

Witnesses told police the car was speeding and using the grass median of Kalanianaole Highway near the Women's Community Correctional Center to pass other vehicles.

"They were estimating speeds; the minimum was 70 to 80 mph." Prasser said. "Some were saying it was in excess of 100 mph." The speed limit there is 45 mph.

Police said the driver, a 22-year-old Waimanalo man, lost control of his car and slid sideways into oncoming traffic, where the car was hit broadside by a van, breaking the car into two pieces.

Both the driver and his passenger, the 15-year-old girl, were thrown from the vehicle. The girl was pronounced dead at the scene. The Honolulu Medical Examiner has identified her as Jasmine Pai of Kaneohe. The driver was critically injured but has since improved to guarded condition. They were not wearing seat belts, police said.

The van driver, who was wearing his seat belt, walked away from the accident and refused treatment.

The girl might have survived if she had been wearing her belt, police said.

"We do believe there might have been a chance," Prasser said. "We don't know at this point."

Police statewide have been setting up seat-belt checkpoints as part of the "Click It or Ticket" campaign and will be setting up drunken-driver checkpoints for high school graduations this weekend.

"Maybe somebody else will think twice before they do the same type of behavior," Prasser said.

E-mail to City Desk


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